Confessions of an Accidental Leader

One Vital Skill to Leadership Competency – Mastering the Art of Small and Talk Making Others Comfortable with You

Do This and You’ll Never Be Blindsided by Your Best Employee Leaving- or Before There’s a Major Conflict in Your Midst!

Leadership influence is asking questions and attentively listeningI’ll never forget the evening my husband and I were standing around the pool at a work party, when the CEO of the non-profit where my husband worked walked by. We greeted him, exclaiming how nice the evening was. As he walked past us he responded, “I’m sorry, I don’t do small talk.” I was stunned! We had held him in such high esteem. Both being in our early 20’s we had considered him our mentor, so I’ll never forget how that comment made us feel, as he went over and stood talking to a millionaire in our midst. This is one of the incidence that put the fire in me to coach, train, and develop leaders and their staff with the people skills  that will cause them to valued and care about one another, while fulfilling their calling and mission through their business.

“There’s hardly a higher compliment you can pay an individual that to help that person be useful and find satisfaction and significance.” by John C. Maxwell

So how do you do this, learn to genuinely care about people? You begin by asking questions, while attentively listening. As a leader, this is an imperative skill to master! Believe me, when people feel their leader is interested in them and their growth, they’ll be more engaged, more dedicated and produce more. So overall it’s just good business to attentively listen, and care about the needs of your employees!  

“Napoleon Bonaparte knew every officer of his army by name. -He asked about their home and discussed maneuvers and battles he knew that this officer had been involved in.  It’s no wonder their devotion to him!

Begin first by asking questions to learn the key elements of people’s lives. Where they grew up, how they fit into the family constellation, what kind of hobbies they have etc. You can then effectively follow-up with sincere interest and concern for them. This can be done one-on-one, during a round table discussion, at a team-building exercise, standing around at an event or when beginning a business meeting. I used to play a game seeing how long it would take, and how many questions I would h”Napoleon Bonaparte knew every officer of his army by name. -He asked about their home and discussed maneuvers and battles he knew that this officer had been involved in.  It’s no wonder their devotion to him!ave to ask before I would find some kind of commonality or connection with the person. Asking questions is a magical tool.

“What’s worse than training your workers and losing them? Not training them and keeping them.” Zig Ziglar

listen attentively,care about employeesQuestions are the answer when engaging in small talk. In fact, you don’t have to say a thing, just listen and ask another question, while giving them the physical cues that you are listening attentively. Such as stopping everything you were doing to pay attention; turn toward them and look straight into their eyes; even checking for their eye color. And by all means, don’t take calls, or allow interruptions from text messaging etc. As much as possible, for a few minutes, look at their eyes, and nod periodically throughout the conversation saying:

                     * hmmm . . .                      * Interesting. . .                                 * I understand. . .                      * Really?                      * Is that right?

I’ve been told you can learn a new skill if you’ll be willing to get out of your comfort zone and practice for 15 minutes each day. Try starting conversations with the clerk at a counter, while standing in line, when you’re in a group waiting. Work on making others feel comfortable with you. No, I’m not suggesting you become a Chatty Cathy, or attempt being the “High I” behavioral style if you aren’t one naturally, just practice being hospitable on a daily basis!

A GREAT LEADER says, How can I make those around me more successful?

The most successful executives have mastered the art of small talk! It is essential to their effectiveness and influence!

3 Amazing Reasons Aspiring Leaders Read Books!

stack of books isolated on white background

             Leaders Are Readers!

In this day and age of multiple electronic devices that entertain us, vying for our attention, why READ BOOKS?  Isn’t that a bit boring, cliché?  In fact, a recent Huffington Post Poll of 1,000 U.S. adults they discovered that 28 percent of people had not even read 1 book in the past year.  So, why do I practically require all of my clients add this competency to their learning suite while being coached?  Let me explain:  



  •  Expand your Vocabulary

  •  Boost your Creativity

  • Improve your Writing Skills

  •  Enhance your Memory

  • Develop greater levels of Analytical Thinking

  • Be in tune with the “thought leaders” of this day and age

  • Become known as a thought leader yourself



2.  Then, if you’d like to know THE most effective way to deal with STRESS, even over the standard remedies such as listening  to music, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee or even taking a walk.  And how many of us who are running organizations or businesses are stress free? Right, my point exactly.  So, instead, READ A BOOK for at least 15 min. See the facts here

3.  And, if you’d like the ability to “read another’s mind”, and who in leadership wouldn’t.  The research here (published in the journal Science)  says that reading literature will literally give you the ability to ‘read’ the thoughts and feelings of others, according to what NPR describes.  This then increases your higher levels of thinking and discerning, and who doesn’t need that when making important decisions day in and day out!

Therefore, reading can decrease your stress, increase your intuitiveness, and assist you in developing greater leadership competencies needed to run your business or organization.  I proclaim, let the reading begin!


Your Coaching Corner Today, What’s a Man or Woman to Read. . .

  1. Your industry periodicals

  2. Fast Company

  3. Inc. Magazine

  4. Harvard Business Review

  5. Best Books of 2013

  6. Best Business Books of 2013

  7. Did you know your public library has books you can download onto your phone or an mp3 player!  It’s awesome and free!

Share below what books are your favorite to read and why?  We’d all love to hear your picks!


Avoid Leadership Miscommunication

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  • How do misunderstandings begin?
  • What can you do, as a leader, to be sure your communication isn’t taken wrong?
  • Find how to better mitigate conflict when it arises in your midst.

Leadership for a Manager is all About Managing People Well!

Manage People Well and You’ll Succeed

Here’s where the rubber meets the road in successful businesses where people feel valued for their contributions! Managing people is all about developing other people to bring out their unique:

  • Talentsshowing the results

  • Gifting’s

  • Personality, Birth Order & Generational Bent

  • Knowledge, and Education

  • Skills Sets

to meet the needs of their position at work.  Great managers develop and release their employees by assisting them through training, coaching, directing, supporting, encouraging, and delegating.  Lee Iacocca managed to lift Chrysler Motors back from varying challenging issues including labor disputes and bankruptcy.  Through it all he managed to maintain his value of “succeeding at the people level”.  What this meant was that he insisted, and I quote:  “In the end, all business operations can be reduced to three words,


PEOPLE come first.”

If fact one of my very favorite quotes states that to be a superb leader, or manager:

“You need to develop the skill of:


Dr. John C. Maxwell

Handshake in front of business people

In fact,

“No man will make a great leader who wants to

do it ALL himself,

or to get the credit for doing it!”

Andrew Carnegie

Again, management isn’t about you.  It’s about what you can do with and through others to build and develop them, while simultaneously meeting the mission, vision, and strategic plan of the company.  J. Paul Getty, the wealthy oil mogul, when asked: ‘What was the most important quality of a successful executive?’ replied:

“It doesn’t make much difference how much other knowledge or experience an executive possesses.  If he is unable to achieve results through people, he is worthless as an executive.”   


Are you hearing a similar theme?  As a leader, it’s about extracting from your people, their very best on behalf of the company, in ways that honor, value, and build them. You truly have the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life.  Because of you they can gain a new skill, learn a new competency, or even be directed toward their dream position and ultimately live a fulfilling life.  You have the opportunity to be the difference in each and every employee who calls you their boss.  So, it’s important that you get the right perspective on your position, and learn what great leaders/managers say and do to create great employees.  A great leader says, as they work with their employees, “How can I make those around me more successful?”  In fact, one of the very best questions you can ask yourself, to evaluate why you are a leader, is to discern what your motive is in carrying the title leader/manager/supervisor while you support, coach, direct, and lead the people under you:

“Am I building people?

Or, am I building my dream

and using people to do it.”

Fred Smith of Federal Express


This question goes to the heart of why you are in this role, and what your true management motivation should be.  In fact, when you correctly understand what your “Job Description” is, you will begin to understand that everyone you work with is hungry.  Yes, that’s right, they’re hungry to be understood, to feel worthwhile, important, and ultimately in their own way, to be recognized as valuable . . . valuable to you and to the organization you both work for.  Now, if you still feel like you’re going to throw up when you reading a speech like this, and I understand, that was me not too many years ago, you’ve got a ways to go.  However, if this now resonates with you, motivating you to work toward finding out how you can genuinely meet the unspoken needs of those who are a part of your tribe, those who call you their boss, you are on your way to great leadership!  It all begins with the right attitude and perspective of things!

Be a Leader, by Understanding the Language of People – DISC!

business meeting - woman ceoYour Key to Success with People!

Understanding Behavioral Styles, DISC, gives you an edge to know what people want and need, the best environment most conducive for them, including how they’ll respond, and what they naturally avoid.  You’ll be clued in as to how to most effectively lead and manage, even how to market and sell to them.  You’ll know what their natural bent is, regarding the position that best fits them, so they don’t drive you and everyone else crazy being out of position!  Bottom line, know DISC, I mean really know it and you’ll have an immediate understanding of anyone’s strengths and weaknesses.  In fact, it’s so profound that it’s like a language, the language of people.  It’s as if you have a crystal ball guiding you as to how to best approach, respond, manage and well, work with just about anyone from your boss to a new employee.  You’ll be people SMART!  And that’s invaluable!


Leaders, Managers, and Owners Did You Know That 3/4ths of the Workforce Will be the Millennial Generation by 2025. Are you Ready?

Join the Conversion and Learn About This Amazing Generation!

Millennial GenerationThey can bang out a text message faster than thumbs are meant to move, are the multitask masters that keep more computer screens open on their desk, can following more trains of thought, all while you’re standing there trying to have a conversation with them.  They get more done in one day, than some of us hope to do in three, have a sense of social consciousness that puts most of us to shame, and are trying to live down the stereo types cast about them since they were still in diapers.  Who are they? They’re the next leaders of our country, the Millennials, also known as Generation Y.  (sign-up for the Teleseminar)They are the ones who are inheriting the mess of our fossil fuel crisis, disastrous environmental issues, declining value of the dollar, and poor management and leadership of our country.  These are the ones inheriting the debacled reign of the Baby Boomers.  They’ve been judged as, and rightly so 5 to 10 years ago, as being trophy children, wanting praise for just showing up for work, and being too dependent on their friends who they talk to three and four times a day, Mom and Dad.  These stereo types may have been true even just a few years ago, and some may still be maturing, but come on folks, let’s face it, they’re now hitting their 30’s and quite frankly, many of them are currently the same age that our founding fathers were when they formed our country and drafted the Declaration of Independence. 

                                            (sign-up for the Teleseminar)

Even they need to be given a chance and the benefit of the doubt that they can grow up, mature, and live down these once true statements.  Hey, it wasn’t that long ago we Baby Boomers were wearing halter tops, bell bottoms, tie died shirts with everyone’s hair being undistinguishably the same length, hanging out at Woodstock, engaged in all manner of rock and roll, and all it entailed?  And like all generations, not all participated.  Would we want othersw to continue describing us as if we were stuck in our 20’s when we were 30 something?  That said, we do have our challenges with this generation.  You see, by 2025 these Millennials, otherwise known as Generation Y, WILL BE 3/4ths OF OUR WORKFORCE!  Therefore, my question is, ARE WE READY?  DO WE KNOW WHAT WE NEED TO DO TO PREPARE your company, or culture to be ready for this insurgence of zeal, optimism, and techno savvy genius!  Are you onboarding them the best way for them to receive?  As leaders, managers, and executive coaches, it’s time to NOW! If you’re in Tucson, Az. You can join me next week, on Wed. March 5th at 3:00pm for a lively conversation about GETTING READY, BECAUSE THEY’RE ALREADY HERE!  Are you a Millennial?  Come set us straight, or give us your take on this situation. We’re all learning. Have some insights now, please share them below! And join us March 5th (sign-up for the Teleseminar)

20 Things to Do to Keep From Being an Accidental Leader, Part I

Strategically Create the Life and Work Worthy of your Talents, Giftings, Education and Experience

  1. Take A Behavioral Style Profile to learn your strengths and weaknesses.  Contact me for more information.

  2. Take a Strengths Finder to compliment the Personality Profile

  3. Interview your parents, assuming you have a good relationship with them, and ask them what they saw in you as a child, i.e., the strengths they perceived in you that would translate into a career, or other direction for your life

  4. Ask 5 friends what they see you’re good at and one thing they see you might work on for greater success

  5. Deal with any and all childhood issues that could be showing up as blind-spots, limitations or weaknesses.  This is KEY to your progress.  Ask me for more information if this intrigues you, as I have a workshop that could get you started, and would gladly tell you about my experience with it

  6. Learn to use the 24 hr. Rule, to get over a crisis, disappointment, or a “win”, and keep yourself moving forward. (I’ve written on this in past posts, and will write on it again this week.)

  7. Begin aGratefulness Journal” and write every day of at least 5 things you are most grateful/thankful for.

  8. Take a class on “Time Management”, creating systems for every area of your life and work

  9. Create your own personal “Mission Statement” and choose 5 to 8 values by which to base, and use as a plumb-line,  all the major decisions you make life

  10. Once a year go on a week or month long “Negativity Fast” where you allow family and friends to fine you if you say anything negative about yourself, others, or circumstances.  You’ll be amazed at how cleansing this is!  Take it up a notch and add not listening to any negativity as well!

  11. Determine from now on to make decisions based on living out your values and Mission Statement.

  12. Find a mentor.  Look for 2 people you admire in different aspects of their life, and then ask them if they would consider mentoring you.

  13. Create some form of self imposed accountability for yourself.

  14. Learn to be a better communicator, especially in the area of listening.  Most leaders get into trouble more by not listening than by talking.

Stay tune for the rest of the list of 20things, and how to get some help accomplishing these in the next post!

Are You an “Accidental Leader” Because You’re Out of Position? Pt.II

You may be trying to operate your own business, but it just doesn’t seem to be working. You know something’s wrong, but you don’t know what.  What I’ve written in this post expands on the post in pt I of this series, and will help you discern if you’re out of position.  Meaning you’re in the wrong role for what naturally fits you.  (Now I’m all for temporarily doing this to gain great perspective, and acquire new skills.  However, stay in the wrong roll too long, and it’s called STRESS!)  Don’t lose hope though, I run into entrepreneurs all the time who struggle with this very issue, and yet gained the necessary assistance and are now highly successful. One way, is to create a culture of accountability, and then to plug into it.  There are ways you can make a position that doesn’t fit you, still work!  But first you have to recognize the cold hard facts, be brutally honest with yourself.  Then you can create an action plan that works, and fits you.  So, if you’re ready to discern your situation, let me ask you if any of the below scenarios and/or feelings sound like you?

  1. You have employees to supervise, but you loathe, no you despise confrontation and avoid it at all cost!

  2. You prefer instead, to allow things to work out on their own.

How’s that working for you?  Things won’t work out on their own-they usually escalate and get worse. 

  1. In fact, you know you’ve got someone out of position, when a company-wide policy is made for everyone, instead of correcting to the one person abusing the system.

  2. You’d rather fix things, and work around the facility, than deal with people, avoiding them until absolutely necessary.

  3. You don’t have a natural sense of what to do to motivate, lead, and redirect those in your charge.  Worse yet, you’ve never been given any formal training on how to be a successful leader – manager.   If this is the case, please HEAR ME.  This was not your fault!  Let me say that again, “You are not to blame for being in this position!”  However, that said, you have no excuse to not take the responsibility to obtain the tools and skills necessary to successfully influence and lead, even if you only have two employees!  In fact, every personality style can be an effective, successful leader, by using their personality style appropriately, along with maximizing their strengths, while delegating or eliminating their weaknesses!  In fact, what some would consider natural leaders, can be the very worst leaders, leading like a bull in a china shop!  I liken this to a strong willed horse that’s never been broken. They’ve never learned to bring their strengths “Under Control” to best utilize them.  Luckily, we live in a day and age where resources on this topic are in abundance!  GREAT materials, books, DVD’s, mp3’s, and podcasts on the subject are prolific, especially at our public library.  In fact, go to my LinkedIn profile and you can see my reading list filled with some of the best in leadership.

Stay tuned.  In part III of this leadership series, you’ll find how and when it’s time to move on, or step down from the frustration of trying to be something you have never enjoyed, and have never felt successful doing! You will also discover how to best adapt your style to be the best leader/manager you can be, and how and why a Business Development Coach or Executive Coach can be your best resource to assist you and your organization in establishing successful leaders and managers of every behavioral style.

Are You an “Accidental Leader” Could You Possibly be Out of Position? Pt I

Did someone wave a wand and say: “POOF”, thou art a manager –NOW  LEAD!

Are you, or someone you know, in the wrong role/position in your company?  Did someone wave a wand and say: “POOF”, thou art a manager –NOW  LEAD!  But you have NO CLUE WHAT THAT MEANS or what you’re to do differently?  There could be all kinds of reasons you’re out of position:

  • Your personality doesn’t align with the requirements of the role – i.e.  say the position needs someone who is commanding, one who is able to change easily and move quickly.  However, you’re a process person and like large amounts of details to then check, double check, and even triple check before you make a move. If so, then you’ll be frustrated in this role, along with making everyone around you frustrated.

  • Talents – say you’re very gifted with high amounts of creativity, but you don’t have an outlet to use it . . .

  • Your education didn’t support this role, and you’ve been struggling to try to make it work, but no matter how hard you try, you feel like you’re always behind.

  • The experiences you’ve had didn’t prepare you for this role, and your interests don’t align either

This doesn’t mean you’re bad or wrong, it just means that this role/position is not a natural fit for you.  You can still stretch yourself and take on the role.  However, be aware that it will take considerably more effort, energy, and possible skill sets you don’t now have to fulfill.  Not to mention you may not enjoy it.  Another way you’ll know you’re not in the best role for you when required to be THE leader, is if:

  • Setting the big-picture vision isn’t natural for you, and instead is difficult!

  • Directing people – such as:  Providing them with the instructions as to what to do, which may be impossible for you to do – due to your personality style.  For some personality styles, and I know it’s hard for some of us to fathom, this would mean confrontation to them.

  • Correcting and leading people is difficult and/or frustrating for you, so you’ll avoid it like the plague!

If these sentences resonate with you, then you’ve got another clue that you are an “Accidental Leader”.  If so, then one solution for you is to acquire a Business Coach to assist you to discern why you may be discontent, ineffective, and possibly even miserable in the position you’re currently in.  If you do, then you’ll receive the assistance to be successful!

On a positive note, I’ve had the most amazing opportunity to pursue what I’ve loved, and what fits me, for the past 35 years.  Because of my supportive husband, I was given the gift of creating and designing a career that I thrive in, am passionate about, and which gives me the ability to continually grow with and into.  My life mission emerged from one class here and an experience there.  As a result, along with my personality, certifications, and education over the years, it has slowly emerged, until one day I realized I was The epitome of an “Accidental Leader”.  I didn’t begin with the end in mind, as Covey recommends.  I didn’t set out to be a “Business Coach”, that didn’t exist when I went to college.  And I didn’t set out to pursue being a leader or trainer, however I was strategic about each small thing I pursued, until it cumulatively transpired into this awesome role called a Business Coach, Executive Coach and Corporate Trainer.  Like a puzzle that emerges from the similar colors, shapes, and connectivity of its’ pieces, I now help others to be strategically excellent, by making sure their life and work aren’t built upon accidents, but on the best of what they bring to this world, aligning themselves with the people they’re suppose to connect with and serve.

Leadership Behaviors, A List of 25 of the Most Important

What Leaders must DO – The Behaviors They Need to Exhibit for greater leadership influence.

Do you know what they are?  Better yet, do you exhibit them yourself?  Write next to each word/phrase giving yourself a 1-10, 10 being best on how you’re doing.  Then let others in your company do the same, ON YOU that is!  Hummm . . . who will take me up on this intimidating, but revealing activity? 

Leadership has been aspired to, examined, torn apart, written up in every literary form to man, but when you have to determine if your management team is exhibiting the needed behaviors to lead your business to greatness, where do you begin?   As well, how do assess and determine if your training has been effective in this area?   You need some kind of comprehensive list to go bySteve has synthesized and melded the work of others to come up with this list, and I think it’s a great conglomeration of “actions most needed for superior leadership competencies”, therefore providing a mirror to hold up, whether it be for yourself, or with your team leaders.  When it gets right down to it, you build collaboration, team work, and influence according to what you do, not by what you say you do.  As an Executive Coach, I would love to dig even deeper.  Assess what will make you better, and then hold you accountable, but it’s a post.  So take it as deep as you can – then when you need assistance implementing, call me, so we can talk about creating a strategic leadership plan specifically designed for YOU and YOUR SUCCESS!  We all need one you know.

So what do you think, do you disagree, or have something to add?  Leave a comment even if it may be controversial.

This list is taken from Steve Arneson – of the Leadership Examiner

1. Being a Role Model for Integrity and Ethics
2. Demonstrating Optimism and Positive Energy
3. Learning the Business
4. Establishing a Vision and Mission
5. Setting Strategy and Priorities
6. Hiring Great Talent
7. Creating a Culture of Customer Focus
8. Building High Performance Teams
9. Motivating and Inspiring Others
10. Delegating and Empowering
11. Listening
12. Communicating
13. Driving for Results
14. Managing and Evaluating Performance
15. Coaching and Developing Talent
16. Managing Complexity and Ambiguity
17. Managing Your Time
18. Evaluating Risk
19. Resolving Conflict
20. Driving Innovation
21. Influencing Others
22. Collaborating Across the Organization
23. Demonstrating Passion for Your Work
24. Being a Champion for Work/Life Balance
25. Keeping Things in Perspective (Humility and Gratitude)

So, who’s your hero?  Who do you know that exhibits more that is on this list than anyone else you know?  If you could work on one thing, you’d like to add to your leadership list, what would it be?  Now go to Marshall Goldsmith’s Library and learn the “Feed Forward” activity, and go to 3 people you know and trust wants your best for your life, and follow his instructions.  You’ll be glad you did!

Here’s to you, and your leadership development!

Sue The “Accidental Leader

Taking the Accident Out of Your Leadership and Your Life and Instead Helping You Make it Intentionally EXCELLENT!

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Confessions of an Accidental Leader
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